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China to Name Frigid Antarctica Islands

More than 40 islands in Antarctica will become the first area of the continent to be given Chinese names, officials from the Chinese Arctic and Antarctic Administration said yesterday.

One of the country's top Internet portals is collecting suggestions for names and holding a vote to choose the most popular monikers, which will mainly be based on the names of famous Chinese scholars, leaders and mountains.

Commissioned by the International Antarctica Affairs Committee, China will name the islands within the Grove area in Antarctica during its 22nd expedition to the continent in November. The researchers will depart from Shanghai.

The Grove area is a mountainous region covering 3,200 square kilometers in eastern Antarctica that is considered the most spectacular region of the coldest continent on Earth.

In addition to naming the islands, researchers on the expedition hope to find and collect meteorites.

"This is going to be a very special expedition," Xing Weijia, a researcher with the city-based Polar Research Institute of China, said yesterday.

During previous expeditions, Chinese researchers have collected 4,480 meteorites in the Grove area including several highly valued meteorites from Mars.

The CAAA is working with Sina.com to collect candidate names, which have been divided into nine categories including well-known Chinese thinkers, ancient politicians, artists, writers, scientists, mountains, animals and plants.

People can vote online from a list of more than 150 candidate names for the islands, or they can submit their own suggestions to the Website.

As of yesterday, Confucius led the category of thinkers; Li Bai, a renowned poet from the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD), led the writers category; and Wang Xizhi, an ancient Chinese calligrapher led the category of artists. Other popular names were based on Taishan Mountain in Shandong Province, and the Yellow River.

Pop culture also played a role in suggested names, as Li Yuchun, the winner of the recently concluded hit TV show "Super Girl," was put forward by several people as a possible name for one of the islands.

Currently, most places in Antarctica are named by Western countries including the United States, Germany and Britain.

(Shanghai Daily September 16, 2005)


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